The 2022 Department of Defense Warrior Games will begin Aug. 19 at Walt Disney World Resort’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando. The annual games are intended to celebrate the commitment, strength, spirit and resilience of active military members and veterans who have faced injuries, been wounded or fallen ill.
Hosted by the United States Army, the Warrior Games will feature nine days of adaptive sports competitions, including wheelchair basketball and rugby, archery, swimming, sitting volleyball, track and cycling. Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) and international ally teams will compete in indoor and outdoor events.
Established in 2010, the Games provide a way to support wounded service members in rehabilitation and recovery. They not only promote growth and achievement but also inspire participants to stay physically active in their own communities.
Close to 300 U.S. military and allied nations competitors have trained hard to compete in this year’s Games. As part of the preparation for the events, competitors participated in an adaptive sports program that helps build endurance and encourage camaraderie among teammates.
Comedian Jon Stewart will host the opening and closing ceremonies at The Stadium at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Singer and songwriter Darius Rucker will perform at the opening ceremonies while rock band American Authors is scheduled to perform during the closing event.
This year marks the first time Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex will be a Warrior Games venue. We asked Faron Kelley, Vice President, ESPN Wide World of Sports, runDisney and Disney’s Water Parks to share Disney’s reasons for donating the 220-acre facility for the Games.
Q: What can you tell us about the Warrior Games?
A: The Warrior Games is the ultimate triumph of the human spirit. It is a chance to see how powerful sports and competition can be when used as a transforming element in a person’s life. It also gives us a chance to say thank you and cheer on these warriors who have done so much for all of us.
I have always been a proud supporter of the military, as my father and many of my aunts and uncles had served, but being able to witness first-hand the positive impact that sports could have on the lives of these service men and women truly changed my life.
Q: Why are the Warrior Games important from a Disney perspective?
A: Disney has a long-standing history with the military, dating back to our founders, Walt and Roy. Today the company continues to be involved on a number of levels including our Heroes Work Here program that works to hire veterans and military spouses into post-service roles within our company. For veterans who have joined Disney, we have the SALUTE Business Resource Group, which connects them with other Cast Members (Disney’s term for employees) who have served and are now transitioning into the private sector. And we also look for outreach opportunities – including powerful events like the Warriors Games and not only host them at our Sports Complex, but also engage ESPN to help tell the stories of these amazing men and women.
It is truly humbling to be a part of these games. Everyone involved is so incredibly thankful for what we do – when in actuality, what we are doing pales in comparison to how much each of them has given. We are truly grateful to have this opportunity to say thanks.
For game location and schedule information, check the official Warrior Games website.